MEREWETHER, New South Wales/Australia (Saturday, March 13, 2010) – ASP World Title race surfers Ben Dunn and Drew Courtney left spectators with little doubt just why they are among the best surfers in the world.
Dunn, who hails from Old Bar on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales, and Courtney, who comes from Umina on the New South Wales Central Coast, both ensured a place in tomorrow’s quarter-finals of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 4-Star Burton Toyoto Pro in the afternoon’s semi-clean 1 metre conditions.
Dunn looks set to go one better in Newlle than he did in 2005 when he ran second to current ASP World Champion Mick Fanning.
Only Chris “Critter” Salisbury outscored Dunn in the round of 16, but Dunn need not be concerned about the Newport surfer being the out-of-nowhere youngster that could upset the experienced professionals.
That’s because Salisbury won’t be surfing tomorrow.
Salisbury, who commenced his ascent up the leader board in the round of 112, won every heat he contested at Merewether bar one.
Topping the top heat and top individual wave score sheet again today, Critter is scheduled to catch a flight to Tahiti tomorrow morning at 8am to contest a Pro Junior.
“It’s a shame but those planes don’t fly every few hours and it’s a real hassle to get organised if you miss one,” he said.
“Heath (Joske) said ‘why don’t you let me win if you aren’t going to be here tomorrow.’”
“Maybe if he offered me $500 I might have thought about it,” the in-form surfer of the entire competition joked.
But Salisbury’s focus at Merewether suggested he would ever willingly let a competitor win at anything if there was pride on the line.
Unless he changes his mind overnight, South African Brandon Jackson (12.84) – who sneaked past and eliminated the last remaining local surfer, Michael Spencer (12.76), from the event – can expect a walk through the quarter-finals and plan on at least banking a cheque for a semi-final appearance.
The only other international competitor still in contention is Glenn Hall. Although Australian born, Hall competes for Ireland.
Less than halfpoint separated Hall on the right side of the ledger from Aussie Darren O’Rafferty in a see-saw battle in the round of 16.
Other surfers still alive in the Burton Toyota Pro include the 2003 winner of the event, Dayann Neve, and fellow Aussies Brandon Jackson, Adam Robertson, and Shaun Gossman.
In the women’s event, Kirby Wright added further glassware to her family’s already over-flowing trophy cabinet.
The 18-year-old from Lennox Head today won the first ASP women’s world tour event she has ever entered.
Younger sister Tyler holds the record for being the youngest ever winner of a CT event – just 14 when she won the Beachley Classic – and brother Owen is in his rookie year in the world title race.
Kirby, who came third last year behind Tyler on the Australasian Pro Junior Girls’ Ratings and ASP World Junior Champion Laura Enever, now shares the top spot in the ASP Women’s World Ranking with Peruvian Valeria Sole.
It might not last for long, but she’s stoked to be up there.
But any ongoing commitment to securing a regular spot at the top of the rankings will have to wait until 2011, as Kirby is working full-time at the Billabong shop in Byron Bay.
“I’m saving money to maybe go on the tour in 2011,” she said.
Newlle Wome’ns Open results:
1. Kirby Wright (14.34) (Lennox Head, NSW, AUS)
2. Skye Burgess (9.74) (Wollongong, NSW, AUS)
3. Freya Prumm (7.74) (Merimbula, NSW, AUS)
4. Tarryn Chudleigh (5.76) (Capetown, South Africa)